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Poul Ruders : Thus Saw Saint John

Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Sub-Category Large Orchestra
Year Composed
Duration 11 Minutes
Orchestration 4hd/cel/str
Availability Hire  Explain this...

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Full Score(s) WH29963

Programme Note


"And I saw and behold, a pale horse and it’s rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
...and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as a sackcloth, the full moon became like blood. The sky vanished like a scroll, that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from it’s place."
REVELATION chapter 6.

THUS SAW SAINT JOHN makes the beginning of as series of works all maintaining the gothic as their basic colour. The idea is transcended into NIGHTSHADE for chamber-ensemble (1987) and the huge DRAMA TRILOGY: DRAMAPHONIA for piano and 11 players (1987), MONODRAMA for percussion and small orchestra (1988) and finally POLYDRAMA for violoncello and full orchestra (1988).
This is alarming music. It’s horrifying music, a music rioting our body and senses with macabre impressions; this is a music kindred with Kafka’s woebegone dream-labyrinths and Poe’s disastrous atmosphere: symphonic visions of horror sublimed into sophisticated art. But the hellish guffaw, as Ruders has it, is neither revisiting Weber’s "horror-romanticism", Berlioz’ "Symphonie Fantastique" nor Stravinsky’s pagan sacrifices. The morbid and the symphonic inferno survive with Ruders on their own conditions: a modern world in which virtuosity and despair are intimately entangled.

Anders Beyer Christensen


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